HICKSVILLE, N.Y. — A financial weight was lifted from the family of a firefighter who died in the line of duty, thanks to a foundation created in honor of a 9/11 first responder that is dedicated to supporting the families of fallen public servants.
The Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation will pay off the mortgage at the Tolleys' home in Hicksville, Long Island, it announced Monday. Firefighter William Tolley fell to his death last week while responding to an apartment fire in Queens that was sparked by incense left burning unattended.
Tolley, 42, is survived by his wife and 8-year-old daughter, as well as his brother and both of his parents. His was the FDNY's 14th death this year, be it in the line-of-duty or from illnesses caused by responding to the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
"Each time they leave this firehouse to serve the public, they put their life in danger," FDNY commissioner Daniel Nigro said of his department members. "And Billy did that day and, unfortunately, he joined a long list of heroes in his department."
Nigro said while the foundation's offer cannot take away the pain of losing their father, husband, son and brother, the Tunnels to Tower Foundation can "ease the burden," just as they have for public servants and first responders around the country.
Since the 2014 assassinations of NYPD detectives Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, the foundation has given $3 million to families whose loved ones have died or were catastrophically hurt in the line of duty.
"We rely on the kindness of strangers; not only New Yorkers, but from across the country and it's just so important," John Hodge, chief operating officer for the Stephen Siller foundation, said. "That is how we're able to continue on with this mission and do this."
Foundation officials asked for the public to help them continue their work. To donate, click here.
A wake will be held on Tuesday and Wednesday at Chapey and Sons Funeral Home at 20 Hicksville Road in Bethpage. Tolley’s funeral will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday, April 27, at St. Martin of Tours, located at 220 Central Ave. in Bethpage.